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In a telecoms industry differentiated mainly by service and threatened by churn, gaining access to timely customer data initially drove internal demand for analytics and BI (ABI) reporting. When demand grew beyond customer service, our IT team really struggled to keep up. This set us off on a journey to find ways to help our colleagues to find insights and the answers to their questions themselves.
Last February I presented a webinar at the ThoughtSpot User Group EMEA meeting, telling the story of T-Mobile Netherlands’ strategic analytics transformation and our move to self-service business analytics.
Introducing ThoughtSpot to the business
Our initial roadmap involved making the information in our existing BI tools more accessible by making it available in ThoughtSpot. In August 2020, we began with two use cases:
First, we targeted a large group of business users across marketing, sales, and finance who regularly use dashboards. These are our most active dashboard users, so we wanted to introduce them to ThoughtSpot’s self-service capabilities. We hoped to find a group of ambassadors for the system to help us expand capabilities in T-Mobile.
Second, we targeted a smaller, high-potential user group. Here we were mainly hoping that the users would help identify future use cases. We engaged a few key users first to validate the raw numbers and the descriptions and definitions in the worksheets. Then we trained them how to use ThoughtSpot, including how to create Pinboards and search data.
We then established KPIs, including time saved – or cost reduced – because every answer that users can find themselves saves our IT team precious time. We also monitored the user experience to make sure our end users were happy using ThoughtSpot and its Pinboard visualizations.
Learning from early bumps in the road
When we launched to our large group, initially there were a lot of active users. But this tailed off after a couple of weeks. On further investigation, we discovered that people didn’t need to fix what wasn’t broken! The original dashboard that we had recreated in ThoughtSpot didn’t have any issues so there was no urgent need for people to switch to the new platform.
Engagement in the second, smaller group was considerably higher. This group had been spending a lot of time adapting dashboards to their needs. They were going through a multi-stage process of having to export data from dashboards, import it into Excel and then use their own tools to analyze it for insights. Using ThoughtSpot, this group found business insights instantly without having to jump through any extra hoops. As a result, they have become real ambassadors for ThoughtSpot and are our most active users.
Revising the roadmap
After this initial phase, we captured lessons learned and revised our roadmap to attract more users. We grew engagement with high-potential departments with an internal roadshow, showing off ThoughtSpot’s capabilities in different management and team meetings.
We were clear about the benefits of switching to ThoughtSpot. Before using ThoughtSpot, we could only build dashboards to answer questions that we knew to ask, for example: How are my sales going? How are my customer contacts going? Do I have a lot of complaints?
After implementing ThoughtSpot, however, people started being able to get answers to new questions that they wouldn’t have been able to ask before. Let’s say our salespeople want to know about sales in the Netherlands but all they have is a dashboard for sales in Germany. With our old solution, they’d need additional analyst support and development to get this data. The salespeople very likely would not have bothered. With ThoughtSpot, they’re able to search for those answers directly themselves and get the answers right away. All the data is at their fingertips.
Growing adoption, ROI, and innovation
As we expand the rollout of ThoughtSpot to the business, we’re prioritising future use cases that bring the most value in the shortest amount of time. We factor in the size of the department or the team asking for new analytics, and how many other analytics products they have. We also look at the potential the data offers to the rest of the business. If a department comes in with a request to put data in ThoughtSpot and we leverage that data so it’s available to other teams, might it bring added benefits?
As of April 2021, T-Mobile Netherlands has more than 158 business users on ThoughtSpot, more than triple the number it had in December 2020. Crucially, these users have become more active. Over these four months searches grew by 250% and pinboard views by 400%.
The ability to get answers faster is saving us both time and money. Though we’ve only just started measuring this, we’ve already calculated roughly €40,000 in time savings monthly and this is trending sharply upward. We expect to achieve even greater savings by measuring how much IT saves now that our businesspeople can get data answers themselves.
Our future plans include moving to ThoughtSpot’s cloud solution to benefit from a whole new range of possibilities. We’ll continue to take advantage of new capabilities and integrations in ThoughtSpot, adding new use cases to increase our reach into T-Mobile. As they say, watch this space!